Posted by: spiritthrive | February 28, 2014

Apology by Proxy: Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word

(From a Toastmaster’s speech I gave few years ago, based on a message from my pastor, adapted with her permission.)

Each of you is a living, breathing, precious human being. I would venture, with 100% certainty, every person in this room tonight has, at some point in her or his life, been hurt by someone else. Possibly many times by a variety of people. I would further venture that, like me, many you have been waiting countless, fruitless years for an apology from the people who have hurt you.

It’s not coming.

The apology you are owed is probably not coming because: 1) many people fail to recognize when they have hurt someone else; 2) they don’t want to recognize they’ve hurt someone; or, 3) they refuse to apologize in spite of admitted culpability.

I believe these bad actors create their own destiny and are justly punished by the harmful environment their sociopathic behavior attracts. You could not affect a punishment nearly as fitting, thorough and inescapable as the Universe’s. You would not want to trade places with them.

What about you?

Most of us will not receive the apologies we are owed. We can choose to keep waiting for them, or we can choose to move on, with or without forgiveness.

Each minute we spend thinking about someone who hurt us, and their unoffered apology, is sixty seconds of joy delayed, happiness unfulfilled, life put on hold. Sixty seconds of children and grandchildren less than fully loved; a delicious meal not completely savored; a glorious, golden sunset unable to be etched into your troubled, distracted memory.

If it were in my power to do so I would summon here—right this instant—everyone who has ever hurt you in your life, make them admit their wrongdoing and proffer a heartfelt, sincere apology.

(Now, I’m a big guy who “knows some people,” but that’s not going to happen either. 😉 )

I would like, instead, for you to try an experiment with me.

I think that in many cases, much of the original emotional pain of being hurt has faded, and, measured in some ways, you are largely over your hurt. It would still be nice, though, to hear someone admit the wrong and say those two simple words.

It won’t be the same person as the one who hurt you, neither will it be timely.

You might be surprised, however, that our experiment may unexpectedly, illogically help you to move on. These are matters of the heart, after all.

If a school teacher has hurt you, I apologize.

If a pastor, priest, minister or other member of the clergy has hurt you, I apologize.

If your mother hurt you, I apologize.

If your father hurt you, I apologize.

If one of your children has hurt you, I apologize.

If your spouse or partner has hurt you, I apologize.

If you have ever been hurt by a doctor, nurse or medical institution, I apologize.

If a politician’s words have ever hurt you, I apologize.

If a friend has ever hurt you, I apologize.

If you have been hurt by any one at any time, I apologize.

My intention tonight has been three-fold: 1) To acknowledge we have been hurt by others; 2) To recognize the unlikelihood of receiving an apology; and, 3) Perhaps to accept a small amount of solace and healing through my proxy apology.

It was certainly not my intention to further hurt anyone by my words. If that has nevertheless occurred please accept my sincere apology.

Should I live to be 100, life will still seem too short.

At least it’s too short to wait around for an apology.

How about you?


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